Demand Progress

Tell Ajit Pai to recuse himself from the Sinclair merger!

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    Tell Ajit Pai to recuse himself from the Sinclair merger!

    Petition to FCC Chair Ajit Pai:
    The FCC inspector general’s investigation of your pro-Sinclair actions makes it clear: you should play no role in the review of Sinclair’s takeover bid for Tribune Media. Please recuse yourself immediately from the FCC’s review of the merger.

    The New York Times just broke the news that FCC Chair Ajit Pai is under investigation for his ties to Sinclair and whether he directed the FCC actions to specifically benefit the right-wing media company.1

    While this investigation is just getting started, Ajit Pai is still in charge of overseeing the controversial Sinclair merger that would put the unapologetically pro-Trump news corporation into 7 out of 10 households in America.

    Tell FCC Chair Ajit Pai: You should play no role in the FCC’s review of the Sinclair-Tribune merger. Recuse yourself immediately.

    Ajit Pai has been a busy bee since Trump appointed him to chair the FCC. He made himself Public Enemy Number 1 for repealing net neutrality, igniting a national movement of activists just like you all across the country to push Congress to overturn Pai’s decision.

    But this whole time Pai was cozying up to Sinclair, meeting with Sinclair executives and lobbyists before Trump even appointed him to FCC Chair.2 Weeks ago, over 90,000 Demand Progress members signed a petition calling for an investigation into Pai’s relationship with Sinclair. Now, the inspector general of his own agency is investigating just how deep Pai’s preferential treatment for Sinclair goes.3

    But until then, Pai needs to step down immediately from overseeing Sinclair’s sweetheart deal to dominate airwaves across the country.

    Tell Ajit Pai to recuse himself immediately from the Sinclair merger.

    The FCC inspector general will look into Pai’s ties to Sinclair and whether he coordinated and timed policy changes to benefit Sinclair. So far here’s what we do know:

    • Ajit Pai met with Sinclair executives before Trump appointed him to FCC Chair.
    • Last April, Pai rolled back rules about how many TV stations a single media company can own. These rules were put in place specifically to block companies like Sinclair from owning media monopoly.
    • A few weeks after Pai “bent the rules” Sinclair announced their $3.9 billion merger deal with the Tribune Co.

    This merger could change the nature of television. The majority of Americans still rely on local news to be honest and objective. But Sinclair has a decidedly harsh pro-Trump bent, forcing local stations to air top-down prepackaged Trump propaganda as much as nine times a week.4

    The Sinclair merger must be stopped. And to make sure it doesn’t happen, Sinclair-loyalist Ajit Pai needs to step aside while he’s being investigated.

    Tell FCC Chair Ajit Pai: Recuse yourself immediately from the Sinclair merger.


    1. New York Times, “F.C.C. Watchdog Looks Into Changes That Benefited Sinclair,” February 15, 2018.
    2. Ibid.
    3. CNN, “FCC head probed over policies benefiting conservative broadcaster,” February 16, 2018.
    4. Politico, “Sinclair increases 'must-run' Boris Epshteyn segments,” July 10, 2017.